Episode #67: Religious/Church Trauma, How Sermons Are Put Together & Toxic Positivity, With John Verner, Author & Host Of The Cult Of Christianity Podcast

INTRODUCTION:

 

I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Exposition, with an interdisciplinary in Literature, from Moody Bible Institute. I was one of two recipients of the MBI Homiletical Jury Award for outstanding preaching in 2016. I have experience as a youth pastor, pastoral intern, academic journal editor, and guest speaker.  I used to be a part of the largest cult in the United States. In 2019, I published my first book as a first step in addressing the subtle issues of this complex system. In 2021, I continued my work with this podcast! 

 

INCLUDED IN THIS EPISODE (But not limited to):

 

 

·      The Cult That Is Christianity 

·      Control – Containment – Conversion

·      How Sermons Are Put Together

·      Toxic Positivity 

·      Churches’ Role In Divorce

·      Religious/Church Trauma

·      How The Church Likes To Be Like The World

·      Different Rules For Leaders Vs. Followers In Church

·      Why We Have Trust Issues With The Church

·      Where Did All These Rules Come From?

·      An Interesting Explanation Of Narcissism 

·      Religious Discrimination 

 

CONNECT WITH JOHN:

 

Website, Social Media & Books: https://linktr.ee/thecultofchristianity

 

CONNECT WITH DE’VANNON:

 

Website: https://www.SexDrugsAndJesus.com

Website: https://www.DownUnderApparel.com

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SexDrugsAndJesus/

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Email: DeVannon@SexDrugsAndJesus.com

 

 

DE’VANNON’S RECOMMENDATIONS:

 

·      Pray Away Documentary (NETFLIX)

https://www.netflix.com/title/81040370

TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk_CqGVfxEs

 

·      OverviewBible (Jeffrey Kranz)

https://overviewbible.com

https://www.youtube.com/c/OverviewBible

 

·      Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed (Documentary)

https://press.discoveryplus.com/lifestyle/discovery-announces-key-participants-featured-in-upcoming-expose-of-the-hillsong-church-controversy-hillsong-a-megachurch-exposed/

 

·      Leaving Hillsong Podcast With Tanya Levin

https://leavinghillsong.podbean.com

 

 

·      Upwork: https://www.upwork.com

·      FreeUp: https://freeup.net

 

VETERAN’S SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS

 

·      Disabled American Veterans (DAV): https://www.dav.org

·      American Legion: https://www.legion.org

 

·      What The World Needs Now (Dionne Warwick): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfHAs9cdTqg

  

INTERESTED IN PODCASTING OR BEING A GUEST?:

 

·      PodMatch is awesome! This application streamlines the process of finding guests for your show and also helps you find shows to be a guest on. The PodMatch Community is a part of this and that is where you can ask questions and get help from an entire network of people so that you save both money and time on your podcasting journey.

https://podmatch.com/signup/devannon

 

 

TRANSCRIPT:

 

[00:00:00] You’re listening to the sex drugs and Jesus podcast, where we discuss whatever the fuck we want to! And yes, we can put sex and drugs and Jesus all in the same bed and still be all right at the end of the day. My name is De’Vannon and I’ll be interviewing guests from every corner of this world as we dig into topics that are too risqué for the morning show, as we strive to help you understand what’s really going on in your life.

There is nothing off the table and we’ve got a lot to talk about. So let’s dive right into this episode.

De’Vannon: Hey, y’all and welcome back to the sex drugs in Jesus podcast. I love having you every week. I, so look forward to it and this week is no different and we’re coming in hot and heavy with episode 67. As we talk about some religious and church trauma. Y’all John Verner is my guess. And this man is a smart motherfucker.

He is well educated. He is well learned, well traveled and well studied. He’s the author of the book [00:01:00] called the cult of Christianity. He hosts a podcast after the same title. And in the days episode, we’re discussing his very hurtful history with churches as he opens up about his very, very, very personal experiences while he’s giving us at the same time, a very inside look at how churches work, because he’s been on staff at churches and things like that before.

I hope you’re delighted about everything. John has to say take a listen.

Hello? Are you beautiful bitches? I would like to welcome you right back here to the sex drugs and motherfucking Jesus podcast. I have with me a delicious that nutritious man by the name of John M I’m gonna pronounce his name as VAE because 

John: VAE, I love that.

That’s so no one’s ever done that. That’s good. That’s my name from now on. I love that 

De’Vannon: he is the host of the coat of Christie Andy podcast, and he is [00:02:00] a, the author of a delicious and nutritious book titled the same. And everyone knows my history, my chaotic and turbulent history with the church. And so when I discovered this son of a bitch, I decided, Hey, 

John: hi.

Hi. Hi, how you doing today? I am doing great. Thank you so much for having me on I love the, the title of your pod. I was laughing cuz haven’t had a ton of sex. I’ve only done a little bit of drugs, but boy, I’ve done a lot of Jesus. So I’m, I’m happy to be on. 

De’Vannon: Oh, the way Jesus is packaged by these churches makes him just as much of a narcotic as anything.

John: absolutely. Absolutely. 

De’Vannon: So you’ve had all the drugs and so. In your own words, tell us your history and everything. Before I open my cock holster and do it for you. 

John: all right. Sounds great. Yeah. So I grew up very religious [00:03:00] very Christian. I had what you might call like a, a reformed upbringing, which is kind of a more conservative and formal version of evangelicalism.

And my dad was in leadership in the church. Church was a part of life. We went to Sunday morning and evening service. We went, you know, a couple times during the week. And so all my social life was at church. I was homeschooled. So church was kind of the world to me. But I was always a pretty skeptical child.

Things didn’t quite add up to me. So it wasn’t until age 11, where I officially converted after asking a lot of questions about how we could trust the Bible and what if we’re all questions? And so I was really good. Other than that, though, I was a goody two shoes, you know, never did nothing [00:04:00]wrong.

But then after I converted to Christianity officially, I yeah. Decided to take it very seriously to the point where at 17 years old, I felt the call to be a pastor. And so started looking at college options and. There weren’t a ton for undergrad. And so I was like, well, I want to, I wanna get going now I’m on fire now.

Praise Jesus. So wanted to, I wanted to go be a pastor and I didn’t want to have to wait eight years to do it. And so I found a good at the time reputable college where I could study biblical exposition. So I went and got that degree. I have a bachelor of arts and biblical exposition with an interdisciplinary literature and got that, got married, got hitched.

And by the time I graduated, [00:05:00] I was a little burned out. I thought it was just normal ministry burn. And so I figured I’ll take a little time off from this church stuff. I’ll still go to church regularly. I was still a youth pastor. That’s what taking it taking time off. Looks like when you’re a Christian is just doing less, but still being very active.

And so. Then I went through a very, very messy divorce that kind of drove me into a downward spiral. Had a bit of a, a flirtatious dance with alcoholism. I like to say where you know, I, and nothing really mattered anymore. And I was trying to reconcile all the problems I had had with Christianity my whole life that I just kept kind of putting on the back burner.

And I got burned by the church. My ex-spouse got burned by the church as well through the process of our divorce. And I was like, you know, I’m not sure, I’m not sure if all of this [00:06:00] is true. Fast forwarding through a lot of funny stories. You get to me living in a van, traveling with my cat across the country where I started to write my book, the cult of Christianity, how church’s control, contain, and convert.

So I wrote that book was expecting a lot of backlash, got some . But not as much as I was expecting, I suppose. So that was nice and refreshing. And then in early 20, 21 I was thinking of different ways to promote the book. And I was like, oh, a lot of authors have podcasts to promote their books.

So let me do it that way. And I was like, but you know, probably only six people will listen or whatever, it’ll be nothing. And then the podcast did way better than the book did and so I got to start interviewing people. I was very interested in interviewing, including Christians that’s. Some of my favorite stuff to do is get into interviews with [00:07:00] Christians.

And so that’s kind of what I do now. And currently I’m between seasons, but it’s really been rewarding to be able to talk about from both my experience and my expertise. How Christianity, especially white American evangelicalism functions as a cult. That’s me. 

De’Vannon: Hallelujah, tabernacle and praise

So we’re gonna dig deep into everything that you just said. I wanted to get into your podcast artwork though. Mm-hmm cause it there’s this huge guy standing on a pedestal platform or a chair or something like that. And then three minions surrounding him and bowing. And I couldn’t tell, is that supposed to be God or is that supposed to be the church or a preacher?

What does that, what does this artwork mean 

John: to you? Wow, this is FA nobody’s ever asked me this. This is a great question. So I’ve gone through different iterations of artwork have even consulted with other people to update the artwork, cuz it’s pretty [00:08:00] old at this point and I haven’t been able to get away from it.

And one of the main reasons is I love the non-descript nature of it. There it’s it’s for, for your audience, it’s basically clip art and it looks you can’t tell if it’s. The gender, the race you can’t tell if it’s God or if it’s a preacher. And I like that because I think that’s a lot of what goes on at church who, who is being worshiped.

Who’s the one bowing, the knee, who’s the one on the pedestal. So every time I’ve tried to make the artwork more grabby or more interesting, I end up saying more with it than I mean to but the, the, the, the way I interpret it and other people can interpret it. Other ways is cults have hierarchies.

There’s always leaders and followers. There’s always one person or several people on pedestals, and then other people just basically having to [00:09:00] submit to their authority and in any environment where that is demanded, I think it can qualify as a cult. My three alliterative words are control containment, conversion.

And so I hope that the art communicates like that’s, if you were able to zoom out and take away all the social constructs, that’s kind of what Christianity actually is concur. 

De’Vannon: Yeah. I appreciate the, I appreciate the the ambiguity of the huge figure. And I I’ve said the same thing myself and I’ve, and I’ve been, I’ve done this in the past, you know, worship to pastors without really realizing it.

I worship the building, the worship leaders you know, anybody up on a stage and yeah. And, you know, so, and I learned in, in my hypnotherapy training, you know, when a person is on a stage, we subconsciously bow them in a way, you know, before we even realize that just by virtue of them being on a stage.

And [00:10:00] we’re not really as critical of people as we should be, just because they’re on a stage. So you said your Bible college was credible at the time. Did they fall into some scandal or anything since you grew? Oh 

John: A handful it’s moody Bible Institute. You can just Google moody Bible Institute, controversy, moody Bible Institute, title nine moody Bible Institute you know abuse, whatever while, while I was there, I mean about just while I was a student there were about.

I would say at least two or three, pretty like nationally recognizable scandals. The thing is, it’s such a small school that people forget about it very quickly. The campus I went to doesn’t even exist anymore. It’s it’s shut down. They only have one campus now in Chicago and I believe they’re struggling pretty hard.

But yeah, the, the [00:11:00] what’s funny though, is the education I received at the secondary campus, I would say was, was shockingly solid. It was, it was pretty good. But the culture was brutal. It was bad toxic from the top down. 

De’Vannon: Lie, scandals and 

John: deceptions. Yeah, the fun. So 

De’Vannon: a gondola , but you were pretty good.

I read where you, you were one of two recipients of the, the moody Bible Institute, home tical jury award for outstanding ING in the year 20 scene. So does that mean you can hoop and holler or 

John: what? Yeah, I, I won preaching. So yeah, it was silly. It’s it’s so every graduating senior at moody Bible Institute, I believe on both campuses faces a Holi jury homily, just meaning sermons a jury, meaning people who judge you

And so [00:12:00] you stand before, it’s usually a panel. I think it’s four judges, usually a preacher from the local community, the preaching prof. An administrator and another professor and yeah, scored almost perfect on my sermon. So it was fun. But can you imagine anything more boring than a bunch of 22 year olds preaching 30 minutes sermons for three to five hours over two days and sitting through them and marking them on how good their gestures are, their use of visual aids.

Did I get the big idea of their sermon? That kind of thing. But I’m apparently I was really good at it, so I don’t know what that says about me, but you, 

De’Vannon: you preached for three or to five hours straight for three 

John: days. Oh, I just preached 30 minutes, but there was the students rotate through. Okay.

For hours. Yeah. Okay. So what 

De’Vannon: I’m curious about. You, you, you, you, you just said like a few of the things that they critique you on. [00:13:00] I wanna know exactly how they analyze a sermon for quality, because this is my gripe I have with, with this new culture where these churches, the, they pre-write the sermon, they gotta get previewed by the board or whatever, you know, before it’s put out to the church, I feel like they’re doing that so they can be sure they have certain keywords and phrases and everything.

So they can effectively, still mind fuck the congregation. to me, it feels like it’s not as authentic. You know, it as how, when you read, like, you know, the Hebrew Bible and everything like that, when those people preach, they just got up and spoke. It was the same thing were the preachers who raised me.

There was none of this. I need to write it down shit. And so, yeah. What, what rubric, what are they checking for? 

John: Wow. This is a huge, I mean, this is worth a whole episode. I, I, I particularly enjoy deconstructing how servants work, because I think a lot of people don’t [00:14:00] even know the process and there are a million different styles.

So the camp I was trained in would be called big idea, preach. There are literally books about different styles and structures of sermons. But the I guess philosophy or, or ministry style I, I was trained in is called big idea preaching. Big idea. Preaching just means there’s one big idea you’re trying to get across throughout the whole sermon.

It’s you repeat one phrase? The sermon I won on the big idea was God lets us be lonely so that we will know he is our only which boy, is that a problematic statement? But, but it won. And so, so, so many things, one in, in the camp I’m trained in, you memorize your sermon, meaning you manuscript it, you type every single word you’re going to [00:15:00] say, and you memorize it.

You have no notes. And I’m very thankful for that, cuz it makes you an effective speaker. But when. I’m most cynical about my degree. I joke that I have a degree in Ted talks because that’s kind of what sermons, at least in the more trendy churches are now. Some of the more old school, if you’re in a traditional Protestant church, you might hear three point sermons that was very common.

They’ll usually have an alliteration or something like that, you know, three CS or, you know, four DS or whatever. Mm-hmm, kind of a point by point sermon that’s pretty common. Most sermons are gonna have a, basically like a, a three part structure, a hook, you know, where you get people interested in listening to you.

It could be a personal story or an anecdote from history or something like that. Then it’s got the meat of the content that can look like reading through the Bible and commentary style, you know, where you’re just commenting on the verses as you’re going through, or it can [00:16:00] be principles you’ve drawn out.

You might, this is where you would do word studies or talk about the original context and then application, or what, why is this relevant? Is usually the third part in the style I was trained in. And that third part is where you relate it back to Jesus and the gospel story. So sermons are very ordered and structured now in different eras of history, they have been different things.

And even in the us, I mean, during the great awakening, they were very you know, fire in brimstone. We joke about that, but, but they were oftentimes off the top of the head and very impassioned different cultures worldwide have viewed sermons very differently. Sermons, in my opinion, didn’t even really exist back in ancient Judaism they, they were more storytellers and, and so there might have been parables, but what we would think of [00:17:00] now as a sermon, I, I don’t think quite existed until probably the apostolic era.

Probably I don’t even personally think Jesus preached sermons which is not a popular belief, but I think he was just speaking and people were following him. And some of it got written down. So, so sermons mean different things to different people. But if we’re talking about the word preach and Greek, I mean, it really just means proclaiming or talking.

It, it’s not a thing that a special person ordained by a committee reviewed by peers is supposed to speak about, it’s not an academic thing or at least it wasn’t originally. So it’s definitely turned into something quite different than it used to be.

What do 

De’Vannon: you think about Joel Ostein? 

John: I love him. 

De’Vannon: wait. I bring him up. I know. I, I get to sarcasm in your toes. Yeah. I, I [00:18:00] bring him up because that’s the church that I was at before I got kicked out. And mm-hmm, I talk about, I talk about Lakewood church a lot because that’s where my greatest church trauma happened at.

Had it been at beque church of God in Christ or Sally’s church, or the way that I would talking about beque or Sally and not Joe Ostein, but that’s just where the shit went down. And it just happens to be the largest church in America. And but it’s convenient for my task. Since he is, since he does own the largest church in America, other churches look up to him and they try to emulate the things that they do.

And so, and that’s why I like to dissect them all the time, because you have a lot of people, there’s people who even like stream and broadcast their service into like their gym auditorium. And that is their service. Right. At least the case when I still went there. So their influences is global mm-hmm what, what do you, what, what, just tell me what you think [00:19:00] about them.

John: So I have a, probably the strangest X evangelical non-Christian anymore relationship with Joel Ostein in that everyone wants to talk about him. And they did when I was at Bible college too, like in, in a negative light. And he deserves a lot of it. Don’t get me wrong. I mean, he is, he is very like outwardly Almost unapologetically in it for the money.

I mean, you don’t have to be a super like analytical person to just look at his church and go something doesn’t add up here. The problem with him is he is a great scapegoat for more local churches and people who think they’re better than Joel Ostein. And they’re not doing the exact same things that Joel Ostein does.

He’s a great scapegoat for them to say, yeah, you gotta watch out for wolves and sheeps closing, like Joel Ostein instead of facing how they operate Colts in very similar ways. So [00:20:00] that’s kind of the angle I come at it from don’t get me wrong. Everything negative anyone’s ever said about Joel Ostein is probably true.

But he does not scare me as much as the local churches do. Primarily because local churches don’t have a national audience. They’re not under the same kind of microscope. They can get away with a lot more. So those are just my initial thoughts, but I’m happy to dig into more 

De’Vannon: dissect the preaching style.

So when I was there, people used to, you know, criticize him for being too happy. They would say people would jump up in the middle of a sermon and holler and stuff before security and their asses out of the building and stuff like that. I’d show up the church and there’d be protestors and everything like that.

I thought all of that was a bit extreme. Mm-hmm but, but I don’t know. I mean, on the one hand, I [00:21:00] was like, I’m happy to hear something happy instead of the fire in the Bri me Stoney. But since after I got kicked out of there, I went through so much bad stuff. The person I am now like a message, like his would be too, like Milky, like it wouldn’t sustain.

Like it, it doesn’t really speak to deep shit. 

John: Yeah. Well, so the it’s kind of like the concept of toxic positivity, right. He, and, and in Christian circles, they’ll call it the prosperity gospel. So yeah, I think that’s bad. I think it’s bad not to be able to admit that life is tough and hard and like has bad things in it.

And when you’re unable to articulate that it’s suspicious. I because the background I came from was never positive and toxically cynical. Again, Joel Ostein doesn’t trigger me as much. I’m like, oh look, someone being a nice person. Who’s a Christian. That’s refreshing. [00:22:00] So, so that’s kind of what I, I think, but I will say, so I read, I read your best life now.

And I, you know, I was in a culture that thought Joel Ostein was the devil. And so I always kind of was more charitable towards him than a lot of other people. But as far as the preaching style, he’s a great speaker and people who emulate him are gonna be great speakers. Why? Because it’s the same formula Ted talks do.

You can watch a Ted talk and think it’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever heard. And then you sit back for another five minutes and you’re like, I have no idea what they actually. Like, I, I don’t, I don’t know if they said anything of value at all, or if they just have such a good speaking style that it was engaging, regardless of whether the material was actually relevant to anything

So I think the same thing goes on with Joel Ostein. I think it’s nice to listen to ’em it feels good. And then you sit back and you go, you didn’t really say anything like nothing, [00:23:00] nothing profound was said, I 

De’Vannon: concur. And y’all when he says your best life. Now he’s talking about Joel’s first book. And I read that one too.

And I agree with you. I was like, and even as I was going to church there for all those years, it got to a point, well, the sermons started being repeated from time to right. And then I would kind of be like and especially now that I’m away from it, I’m like the fuck that you really just say , but you know, that’s a part of the whole.

Hypnosis aspect of it, you know, by the time you’re done with all the laser lights and the worship and the smoke fog and everything like that, your critical mind is blasted. Like you don’t have any yeah. You’re just open to whatever the fuck is going to be said. And and what you said about it being a formula, it’s true.

Like I see the same shit replicated in all the OST stings, the way they preach. Mm-hmm, be it, the ones there at Lakewood or their extended family to have other churches in Texas and stuff like that. [00:24:00] And the way they all crank out these books and everything, you know, it finally collected me when, like, this is not it’s like, so like rare and special.

This is not necessarily God saying thou shall preach this. Or thou she write this book, right. Bitch has got an ABC 1 23 algorithm. And you’re just repeating the same shit over again. Mm-hmm and then my problem is with that is that they don’t share it to the whole world. Like they’re only giving it to like their select few people.

Yeah, 

John: well, any good business model, you don’t give away all your content for free, right? And churches are no different. You know, they, they claim everything is free. But it’s not, it’s, it’s a, it’s an MLM. It’s you know, the, and, and that comes in my opinion, from their theological perspective, that all you need to have a good life is to just believe Jesus was God.

I mean, that’s a crazy formula to assume, and it comes with a million asterisk because you can [00:25:00] believe Jesus is God, but then all of a sudden you have to serve in the church. You have to have these kind of sexual practices. You have to raise this kind of family. You there’s a lot of strings attached the further in you go

De’Vannon: hallelujah, tabernacle and praise. So I wanna go back to this divorce, so sure. How do you identify sexually? 

John: I don’t no, I I I, for, for the sake of my queer friends, I will say that I am SISs head to society. SISs head SISs head SISs head as I’m a cisgender man heterosexual. Sure. Yeah, we’ll just go with that.

Personally. My, my personal feelings about sexuality is everybody’s on a spectrum. The labels are helpful sometimes, but for broad stroke purposes, but if [00:26:00] you actually wanted to get to know me, a simple conversation with a simple label will never do the trick. Oh. 

De’Vannon: So I might get to have my way with you yet.

John: gotta keep the hope alive. 

De’Vannon: Hercules Hercules. And so, yeah, so, so. I wanna know just how nasty it got with this divorce. Cause I’ve talked to people like I was kicked out cause they found out I wasn’t straight. And they were like, basically you’re pedophile will give you conversion therapy if you want it.

Other than that, you can’t stay. Yeah. So when, and I, but I I’ve heard of churches treating people who get divorced the same way. Like I don’t think getting divorced is I have a lot of opinions on that, but just tell me what happened. I wanna know just, just how nasty did they get? 

John: Yeah. So I I’ll mention, you know, there’s obviously parts that I’ll omit just outta respect for my expo.

But what I will say is it, it came about suddenly it wasn’t directly related to any [00:27:00] spiritual issues. We were both, I mean we met at Bible college. So, you know, there, there were expectations that went along with that that I think. Both of us had expectations that changed as we got older, but had no tools to communicate them because we were so indoctrinated to do it a Christian way, but the Christian way did not fit what we wanted to be in our life.

So and I wish I was as mature as I am now to, I, I would never have been able to articulate that while it was happening. And, and I was a pretty bad husband. I, I do take 99, if not a hundred percent of the responsibility for that marriage ending. But as far as how it related to the church, they wanted to be so involved and basically micromanage the process of us getting [00:28:00] back together, which initially was both of our goals.

When we first separated, we did, we didn’t do a clean break. You know, we were. She they had moved out and we were trying to you know, figure out if there was a path forward. And we were, you know, seeing a relationship coach we were actually communicating better than we ever had, but the church was concerned that our relationship coach wasn’t, you know, a biblical counselor or whatever.

And every time they would meet with us, which we met with them a lot both the head pastor and associate pastor it was like a very mob like, or mafia, like where, you know, well, what are you, are you doing it this way? You know, what, what kind of do, are you interested in our community? I, we would sometimes skip church, right?

Because we were exhausted cuz it was an exhausting time and every time we skip church, they would say, even if it’s too triggering for y’all to come to ours, you’d need to be going somewhere. [00:29:00]You should never skip church basically. And so it, it, it. It really hurt because by this point I had been burned by churches in big ways, at least two times prior.

And so this was definitely a final straw moment for me because I knew what to expect and it happened. And it was just kind of like the, the two previous experiences had really led me to believe that churches can be really toxic, but they’re not supposed to be. And the third one was kind of the, the, you know, what do they say in comedy?

Two is a suggestion, three confirms the pattern. It was a confirming the pattern that, oh, this is what churches do. This isn’t like exception to the rule anymore. They make people feel like crap if they don’t do things their way. And it hurt really bad. So that was all kind of vague. I can get [00:30:00]into some more of the details, but, but in general, the idea was.

If I did not follow a very specific pass path, I was not going to be welcome regardless of the fact that I had more religious education than most of the congregation, regardless of the fact that I had been a pastoral intern and youth pastor with them, regardless of the fact that I had written some of their policies to protect their children because they had none, regardless of all this effort I had put in, it didn’t matter.

I was still under their control. 

De’Vannon: What do you think gives churches the this, this notion that they can poke their nose and the people’s personalized? Why do 

John: they’re they’re divinely appointed to do so in their head? I mean, that’s, that’s why they’re there. God has put them there to watch over the F.

I mean, this is, it is it’s from top to bottom, their mentality. [00:31:00] There’s there’s leaders and followers at church. There always will be because that’s, that’s the structure that has, has come about. And Catholicism it’s stark, right? Like it’s, it’s obvious, like you have the Pope, you have priests. It’s a very, like, you know, they’ll even be like you know what clergy is supposed to be abstinent depending on who you ask, but most would say are supposed to be abstinent.

I mean, there’s like these hu and dressed differently. I mean, these are huge markers, the same things present in evangelicalism and Protestantism. It’s just more secretive. It’s not as out to the public. They dress different, they talk different, they look different, they eat different. They have different schedules.

Everything is different between leaders and follow. Because 

De’Vannon: when I was and all, all of those activities reinforces the hypnosis and the mind. Fuck. Yeah. Cause it was, I was at Lakewood. They would bring me into the office and ask me if I had a girlfriend. Yeah. You know, see what I’m 

John: like. It [00:32:00] matters like yeah.

De’Vannon: You know, like and that’s a huge problem I have with Joel because when he gets on camera, he’s all like, everyone’s welcome, you know, case sirrah. Yeah. But then he has these policies going on behind closed door that are very discriminatory. Some people have even alleged, possibly legal, you know, and stuff like that.

And and so it’s just really like a trip. And so you said that you wrote policies to protect children, protect them from. 

John: Well, just like with any church, you should have policies about you know, relationships with youth ministers and, and kids and, and policies about you know, if, if you’re gonna do like any kind of field trips with kids, that kind of stuff, you should just have policies things for parents to sign, just to protect you legally.

It’s, it’s honestly as much to protect the church as anything else from, from lawsuits. But in my opinion, you should also just wanna protect kids from [00:33:00] abuse. And they just didn’t have, I mean, they were a pretty young church plant and they just didn’t have any after I was pretty much shown the door at that church, I learned they, the policies, they said they weren’t gonna use that.

I had written, they ended up using them anyways and plagiarizing and saying someone else had written them, not my biggest the biggest crime anyone’s ever done against me. So I’m like, I’m happy those policies are there. so it’s fine. But yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s just, it was kind of the, the toxicity of that environment, 

De’Vannon: because I was wondering.

Like when I signed up the volunteering in the kids department at Lakewood, they had like a clause on their saying specifically that they did not want any homosexual serving around their children. Wow. 

John: That’s specific. Dang, because 

De’Vannon: they hold a they’re, they’re the type of people who are like, you’re either straight or a pedophile and that’s wild and that’s just where they’re at on that.

There is no spectrum for them. And so and so when you said you wrote policies to protect children, I was wondering if it was that same sort of anti LGBTQ thing? No, [00:34:00]

John: no, I I’ve I at my most evangelical and at my most bigoted, which I, I would say I was still bigoted. I still never believed in othering.

Queer people. It just never, it never got in at that indoctrination. She never sat in there. it just didn’t work. My best friend she’s trans and we grew up in the same church together. Same churches actually, when I switched changed churches in high school her family did as well. And so when, when sh I, I, even before she came out, like, I, I wasn’t super gung-ho about being bigoted.

I always thought Westboro was evil, even at my most evangelical, like, you know, that kind of vitriol hate. I never understood, but I would still say, you know, the bigoted things of like, it’s not the best way to please God or some bullshit like that. But but yeah, a after she came out and I started reading [00:35:00] more I kind of took the opinion.

I was like, even if it is a sin, which I probably did still think it was. I just was like, it just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. like, I, and it’s also someone else’s business and it probably didn’t help at the time that I had my own hatred towards my own sexuality. You know, even just like masturbating felt like, you know, very shameful to me.

So I probably thought it was all garbage. So like who cares which is not necessarily the health healthiest mindset. So no, by the time I was, I was writing church policy. I was not I was not like, yeah. And make sure they’re not gay, that, that wasn’t in my head at all.

Hallelujah. 

De’Vannon: Tabernacle and praise. What, what for you, do you feel like is the deepest, the deepest [00:36:00] religious or church trauma that you received from your time? I agree with you. It really, really sucks when you’ve served at a church for a while and you have this history and stuff like that, and it all gets discarded right along with you, because in their opinion, you have fallen from grace.

You’ve done any, you know, you’ve, you’ve, you know, none of it, none of it matters. You know, the years that I was at Lakewood and the, the 10, the 10, 12 hours you know, the 10 to 12 hours that I was there every week and stuff like that, you know, it’s all great. And we can’t replace you. We can’t do it without you, until they find the blemish.

Then suddenly, you know what, we have a new person coming in today and your services are like, you know, no longer need you’re fired from everything. Goodbye. Unless of course you do our conversion therapy package. For me it felt like a [00:37:00] bad breakup. It can, yeah, terrible breakup and It was like the end of a relationship.

And, and that is my deepest church or religious trauma that I have ever experienced anywhere. So I’m wondering what it is for you. 

John: Yeah, it’s really hard to rank trauma because it all kind of compounds and turns into the same, cuz you know, even if it’s not religious trauma, even if it’s any kind of trauma, typically you’re going to experience similar kinds of trauma throughout your life.

Just based on your personality type, your ways of thinking, how you develop as a child, those kind of factors. So it’s hard for me to just like pick a, like a silo, like, oh, this one is the, is the kick. I like to talk about my first one, which is it’s a very first chapter in my book. I talk about [00:38:00] being I had written a letter to the pastor and elders at 16 years old at the church I was attending. And I I felt that they were not treating the, the youth, the young, young adults and teenagers very well at that church. They weren’t being very respectful towards youth and they had different problematic teachings that I was identifying at 16 years old.

And so when I’d written this letter, they said, well, let’s talk about it. And so they called me into the church into this horrible, like boardroom meeting. And it really did, like, I don’t know if you ever watched the apprentice I did. And like that kind of boardroom, it was just very daunting.

And they, they, it was three, the three elders I knew the best. And my parents and I and [00:39:00] I actually asked to do it alone. I was like, this is my deal. I wrote the letter. My parents don’t need to be here. And so my parents asked if they’d be comfortable with that. So so they asked, they asked my parents, if it was okay, if I faced them alone, they said, yes. And They just ripped into me for like two to three hours. They called my long hair sinful. That was the big, the big thing I took with me, which is why to this day I still have long hair.

And they, you know, said the way we dressed was like the world. They said we hugged the female youth too long, me and my, my best friend and just all this crazy stuff. And it was the first time. And, and what was so crazy about it? They were using scripture so wrongly to justify all their shitty opinions, like clearly like no sane person knowing the context or what the [00:40:00] verses even said themselves would use it.

There’s that verse that says, let no one despise you for your youth. They use that to say, and that means you shouldn’t be worthy of SPR of despise. like, it literally communicates the opposite of that. And so that was the first moment. So I think. I obviously experienced in my opinion, probably worse trauma later related to churches.

But I think that was of the aha moment of, oh, even if I’m gonna remain a Christian, I really need to pay attention to what they’re actually saying and why they’re saying it. So that’s the one that sticks with me and probably is responsible for some of my current trust issues. My current anxieties that kind of thing.

De’Vannon: It’s funny to me how, when it’s convenient, these preachers wanna be like, Hey, don’t be like the world. Don’t, don’t fuck with be Zub, you know, and don’t [00:41:00] do all that. But when it comes time, you know, time for something that is going to to benefit them, Then they want to be like the world. And so I see this when it comes time to the way they structure the church business models.

Yeah. When they pay out salaries and shit like that when they organize the churches behind the scenes and form them mezz like LLCs and shit like that, you know, they don’t pay taxes and stuff like that. That’s one of my biggest gripes against Lakewood because my friend Barry Bowen, who works with the Trinity foundation in Texas, which investigates churches and stuff like that did, did, did some digging and found out that Lakewood church only has like one actual member on file.

You know, it’s run by the whole, the whole family is on the board. It’s just a bunch of, EENs making all the decisions, but, you know, Which is a very like worldwide thing, you know, there’s no voting happening. There’s no [00:42:00] congregation, no involvement in decisions and stuff like that. So on the one hand, it’s like, Hey, you all are a member, but not really.

you know, it’s just like in word indeed. So we’re gonna pay everyone at church corporate salaries, like the world, we’re gonna go business model, like the world, we in a structure, our goddamn sermons, like the motherfucking world, but we don’t want y’all to hug too much cuz that would be too worldly and don’t drink and for God’s sake, cause don’t go to a gay bar cause we can’t have you looking like the world?

No, can we 

John: yeah. Well and, and again, no notice that pattern. Who can look like the world and who can’t, the leaders can look like the world, the followers cannot. The leaders, the, the same rules do not apply to both leaders and followers in church. And what’s funny is they would teach with, with their words.

They would say, because leaders are held to a higher standard, but time and time. And again, we find they’re held to a much lower standard than [00:43:00] followers are. 

De’Vannon: These are the hypocrites that Jesus warned us about. 

John: Yeah, Jesus doesn’t seem like he was that big of a fan of religious leaders. So no, 

De’Vannon: he really wasn’t though.

And, and I wanna give a shout out to my homeboy, Steven, from the book of acts who also threw all the shade at the religious leaders too. He got his ass stoned for it, but you know what? A great honor that Jesus stood up from his position, seated at the right hand of God to receive him at his death. So I’m hashtag team Steven all the way.

Fuck the preachers. Fuck the Pope. Fuck every goddamn damn body, but yay God. And so, so I’m gonna switch gears now to your, particularly to your podcast up until now. We just kind of like been talking yeah. About you. So your podcast are called Christianity. I wanna read just some of the titles. I think the titles are just like really titillating [00:44:00] mm-hmm Conversion therapy, Catholicism and Protestant Protestantism.

There’s so much history between Catholicism and protest Protestantism because my friend Jeffrey Crans runs a website called overview bible.com and he get, he has these really colorful pictures that breaks down like the Bible and shit like that, and is really super fantastic. And I cannot wait to have them on my show, but, you know, from him, I learned, you know, originally like the Catholics had like said like 73 books of the Bible and the Protestants had like 66 and it was like this whole thing and shit like that.

And I really don’t like the Catholic church. Let’s see mental health too narcissism marketing divorce, faith versus works afterlife. And then religious freedom, which is one that I pulled a few questions from. Okay. So [00:45:00] So you talk about like what, what, what, what we’ve been lied to about. And I was happy to listen to your podcast and hear your own words, echo some of my greatest gripes bitches, moans legitimate complaints against the church.

And I don’t know if they all meant well, if they were just trying to give us their versions of the truth. So they didn’t trust us to make up our own damn minds. But I think about how, like when I was raised and they told me don’t drink any alcohol at all, because it’s all terrible and bad, don’t do any drugs at all because they’re all terrible and bad.

Don’t masturbate. Don’t look at porn, don’t dance, secular music. Don’t go to the bar. And as I’ve gotten older, now, I realize there’s actually therapeutic uses for drugs. And the Lord said not to get drunk, but not to have it, you know, not to not have any of it at all. So if you lied about this, then now I don’t trust anything else you have to say.

Mm-hmm . And so what do you think about that? 

John: Yeah, well, alcohol is the drug I have the most experience with. So [00:46:00] you know, and so Christianity, especially the American variety has a really strange relationship with alcohol. There’s certainly like subcultures kind of like Baptist are, are the ones that come to mind that take a very anti alcohol stance which is odd since if what’s reported about Jesus is to be believed.

He definitely drank and enabled people to drink. So it’s weird to be a complete tea total, but I would also guess that among Christian cultures, alcohol’s probably the most abused drug among them because they’re, it’s not seen as taboo in the us as some of the other drugs. So, so either way, in my opinion, with alcohol, it’s kind of one of those things where if they’re prohibiting it it’s for the sake of their control, if they’re abusing it, it’s for the sake of control or containment or coping with [00:47:00]what they’re dealing with, you know, so to me, it, it always will just go back to the controlling containment and conversion.

So yeah, as far as like how they present that and lie and, and make it, you know, either add rules that aren’t present in, in scripture or early Christianity. So my perspective probably goes like this, I think. I think Jesus was the first to reduce a lot of rules. And then ever since him, every Christian has added rules, I think Paul added rules, I think actually most of the apostles added rules personally.

I think that a lot of the early church was trying to figure out what it was like to not have as many rules as the previous versions of Judaism. I think that Constantine made all these religious rules now have a relationship with [00:48:00] the, the state and with governments, you know, I think after the east west schism, there were, you.

At the, the east Orthodox church and the Roman Catholic church had arguments about how you interpreted the nice creed and, and created more rules out of one creed. I mean, it just, it, it snowballs to the point where you’re in the United States and your average church is just going to say things that are, that don’t have a source in the Bible that don’t have a source in historical understandings of Judaism that don’t have historical understandings of what’s reported about Jesus.

So the lies, whether they’re intentional or not don’t really matter. It’s just, it’s so distant. It’s hard to even comprehend or trust much of any of it, in my opinion. Mm-hmm 

De’Vannon: and you were saying like on this particular episode about religious freedoms, how [00:49:00] you feel like the religious freedoms most often protect.

Like already established religions. Yeah. As opposed to individual people’s religious freedoms. And you give a really nice history of how there used to be all these Christian mandates at different states. And they used to have to recite belief in the Trinity or stuff like that. I think like in Massachusetts.

So speak to us about how the religious freedom in this country is really more for organized religion and not 

John: the person. Well, it’s, it’s, it’s not very much freedom or religion, right? Like it’s, , it’s it’s it’s politics more or less. I mean, freedom. The word freedom means very little in Christianity across the board.

In my opinion, I the only freedom that I ever resonated with was this idea of freedom in Christ. And now looking back, I’m not sure how much I even resonated with that idea. There’s this whole problem of free will of like, does God control everything or are we. Just kind of robots following a script [00:50:00] or are we just doing whatever we want and God judges us based on it.

I mean, it’s, it’s very confusing when you start getting into the idea of freedom and Christianity specifically, but true religious freedom would look like I can practice my religion in any way that doesn’t harm others or myself. That’s, that’s pretty simple. I don’t know what that has to do with abortion.

I don’t know what that has to do with marriage. I don’t, I, I don’t understand what the disconnect is there. From a rational perspective, I really didn’t understand it that much when I was a Christian, even when I thought that gay marriage was sinful, whatever, I thought that meant, I thought it should be legal, cuz it didn’t make any sense.

Right? It’s like, well, marriage is a legal process in the country. It’s it’s the same word. Clearly means something different to Christians than it does to non-Christian. So why should we be regulating what other people do? Again, that, that [00:51:00] controlling that cult-like mentality of thing, everyone needs to do it our way or get out.

That’s present in this, this idea of religious freedom which really, again, it’s just a, it’s just, , it’s just a lie. I mean, it, it really just means Christian exceptionalism. I mean, that’s probably the, the best term for what it’s actually describing 

De’Vannon: hall, tabernacle and praise. And you also were saying like how the religious rules, the people, and now this is all.

White men making up all these rules and shit like that. One of my biggest gripes is that when all this shit was done, when king James, who, according to the book of queer documentary on the discovery channel king, James himself, the author of the king James Bible was a big old queer honey, if you haven’t seen it, you need to watch it.

You know, all these people, these are all just like white homies. [00:52:00] They didn’t have women at the table. They didn’t have indigenous people at the table. They didn’t have other racists. And certainly not black people, not in this country. We were only three fourths of a person for fuck’s sake, you know, for so long, they didn’t give a shit about what any of us had to say.

And so, so it is impossible that the Bible was interpreted, translated and put together and all of this with everybody in mind, this was written white perspective, you know, Sounds about white. Let me see here. Mm-hmm so, so you said that, you know, religious, the religious rules were designed though by some white man who had some God sense because not every white, white boy is a fucking fool.

You actually have some 

John: good one. We mostly are though. just to be very clear. We’re mostly fools. I was gonna say 

De’Vannon: it. And so if you were saying like the, the few good white men actually put these religious rules in place to protect the church from hurting people, you were saying really didn’t originate from within the church.

The church had their own way. They would’ve spun out all [00:53:00] Willy nilly. So talk about how the, the rules are really designed to, to, to stop the church from becoming a monster, even though it did anyway. 

John: Yes. You’re talking about some of the founding fathers at the beginning of the, yeah, so, so the, so first of all, not only were they white guys, they were white young guys, the worst kind you know, at the, at the founding of our country and like.

It’s there’s there was so much religious tension at the founding of our, you almost never hear this, but like it’s, you don’t have to look far. You can just read what these guys wrote. They like, some of them thought Christianity was the worst thing that has ever happened in history and wrote explicitly saying that, I mean, I’m paraphrasing slightly.

I might be paraphrasing in a nicer way than what they were saying. And then there were some who thought it should be a theocracy straight. Puritans very much had this mentality that we just need to be [00:54:00] completely different from the church of England. That’s what we need to be. Then you had you know, like you had clashing of cultures at the beginning that state to state the religious culture was different in the original 13 colonies.

You know, the north was much more well, I’ll start with the south. The south was much more like Calvinist and like formal. The, the middle colonies had much more of this kind of quakes, like approach to spirituality. And then the north was creating something new entirely. I mean, it was, we’ve always been divided.

There’s never been like a Christian nationalist foundation. There’s never been a Christian nation in that sense. And there’s also never been like a completely anti-religion vein through what was written. History’s complicated. and sometimes we’re just too dumb or too lazy to actually take a look and read about all the different things that are going on in an era and just read what the winners said.

And that’s really [00:55:00] irresponsible in my opinion. So yes, there were some rules that were trying to protect people. The first amendment was supposed, was never supposed to be. Churches can do whatever they want. It was always supposed to be we’ll keep the church under the law. As long as the church understands, they are not above the law, they can do whatever they want.

That was what the first amendment was supposed to be. Now it means churches are above the law. They can have those tax exemptions. They can abuse people and deal with it internally, unlike businesses or other organizations, they can exempt themselves from title IX stuff, which is what protects people from being sexually abused on college campuses.

They can exempt themselves from that. This is the kind of craziness we’re dealing with now. And you can only do that if you’re master manipulators, who are the, the largest cult that’s ever existed, goddamn. 

De’Vannon: Okay. [00:56:00] So 

John: In my opinion, I should always say that just after everything, say 

De’Vannon: child, it is what it is.

You know, I pray for people to take their own look at stuff. And it’s hard cause you know, people are raised as kids into this cult, you know? And so trying to unwind, fuck somebody, you know, as bad as it is. I thank God for all of the knowledge that’s also available. Yeah. Because it’s not like you have to go dig up a, a thick ass concordance.

Like what I had when I was in, you know, learning and shit, right. That you can like Google shit. You can watch documentaries. You can listen to podcasts. There’s so many books about the fuckery of the church. And so a person is only going to stay ignorant if they kinda wanna stay ignorant in this day time.

So it’s like the worst it gets. I feel like God is also still giving us a way out of it or a reprieve, you know, to some people. 

John: Yeah. Well, I, I agree. I would say the unfortunate thing about the information age. It is great. It is great that you can [00:57:00] access. I, I I’m partial to books. I think articles are fine, but really to get to know history, especially read a whole book.

But I will say what’s unfortunate about that is as equal to the truth as we have in the information age, just as much propaganda is out there and Christians are propaganda making machines. They’ve been doing it for a long time. They’re better at it than anybody. So I, I want to hope, oh, with all this information, a kid who’s struggling with church will be able to, you know, watch a TikTok video, go down an internet rabbit hole and find out all this good stuff.

The problem is they can also go down a rabbit hole and become a school shooter. They can go down a rabbit hole and become a Christian nationalist just as easy. So that’s quite frightening to me.

So true. So true. 

De’Vannon: Well, well, people better get close to God and gain spiritual understanding, you know? Yeah. That way you can have some discernment about what it is that’s [00:58:00] being presented to you and be able to detect whether or not it’s good or bad. 

John: Discernment’s very important spiritual or not, but yes, having a discerning mind and, and I’m not anti spiritual personally.

So I think there’s definitely a a route that, of spirituality that can be very positive and good for both your own soul and for other people.

De’Vannon: Should I throw a touch of shade? Do it. I’m just going to say, say, and I’m talking about Paula white mm-hmm and again, Jolo thing just because why not? I just think it’s really, really fucked up when as separated church and state is supposed to be, you see people like Paul White.

Hanging out with Donald Trump, you know, of course he was surrounded by evangelicals anyway. And I just, I really, it just really bugs me. You know, I got kicked out of Lakewood for hanging out in S in the gay district, you know, when I wasn’t at church. And then Joe [00:59:00] Osen was on stage with Kanye west, you know, who is the last time I checked.

Isn’t exactly like, you want your kids to grow up and be like that guy, you know, 

John: he went off the rails. Holy cow. Which time . Yeah, exactly. 

De’Vannon: do you mean when he was on stage with Joel or some? Just in general. 

John: Oh, he is just author. Yeah. I mean, just post-Trump era, just post Trump, era Kanye. I mean, he’s always been a little bit narcissistic and crazy, but like, man, he really took it to 11 after, after that.

And 

De’Vannon: so it just, it just baffles me, but I guess it doesn’t. We don’t really know these preachers. We just know the face that put on. When they’re in front of the camera, we don’t really know them motherfuckers, you know, for you to think that it is a high moral ground to break bread with Kanye west on stage.

You know, [01:00:00] I don’t get that, you know, and then to be like, Donald Trump is the greatest person. He’s the savior of God he’s sent, I don’t get this. So 

John: yeah. Unfortunately I feel like I do get it. I feel like it fits perfectly only because from my understanding of the development of Christianity it narcissists are rewarded.

I mean, that’s just what it does. It rewards an narcissism. And so yes, I, I think it’s very sad and upsetting when yeah. Jesus who might have been, I’m really gonna say something controversial. Jesus, who was probably queer himself. Would’ve definitely Spent more time with, in a, in a gay community than he would’ve with a, a president.

I mean that, I think that’s a it’s it would be crazy to characterize Jesus any other way. That 

De’Vannon: do be facts though, because when he was here, he did hang [01:01:00] out with the unpopular people. You know, it was him who defended the, the town who, you know, with him hanging out the 

John: ma the majority of Christians, even after Jesus died for the first hundred years, war prostitutes, criminals and tax collectors, the outcast of society, those for the first hundred years.

And, and probably a little bit after that, but definitely those first a hundred that’s who wanted to be Christians, there was a version of Judaism that now accepted those people. Whereas before there was a version of Judaism that would never accept those kinds of people.

De’Vannon: So you’re saying you believe like Paula white, Joel Ostein, and a lot of these religious people are straight up narcissists. 

John: Well, you have to be to being right. I mean, to, to do, to have the kind of image they do. I mean, I find, I have to fight narcissism with a small podcast, right? Like, I can’t imagine having that many people looking at you.

You said something earlier where you said we, we see these preachers, but we [01:02:00] don’t really know who they are. I don’t think they know who they are because the the religion messes with your head when I was just preaching to a youth group or getting paid to, you know, go across state lines to give a sermon or whatever.

I, I didn’t have time for introspection. I was a narcissist as much as anyone. It’s part of why I was such a bad husband. I, I, you get in your head about these things automatically. It’s a, it’s a toxic system from the top down and no one is exempt from the, the horrible mindsets it can instill in you. 

De’Vannon: Give me more of this.

Give me an example of a narcissistic thought, a narcissistic thing that you did than you feel like is common among preachers. 

John: Well, yeah, it’s hard for, it’s harder to think. It’s not like a thought it’s like your, okay, so this is gonna, might be long winded. So I apologize if it [01:03:00] is. If you narcissism is primarily bred when it’s not like an actual mental disorder, but when it comes about later in life, it’s primarily bred from an apathetic mindset, meaning you don’t care about anything when you don’t care about anything.

The only thing that grounds you to reality is yourself. That’s it. That’s all you’ve got because you have to live in your body. You have to wake up, you have to go to sleep, you have to eat, you have to do these things. So the only real reality is yourself. So. It rather than having thoughts people treat the word narcissism, like it just means like abusing people or something.

Narcissism is unfortunately way deeper rooted than that. It’s an inability to get outside yourself in the way it ends up coming out in a more so sociopathic way, meaning you don’t care about right or wrong, you [01:04:00] end up just living your life, devoid of taking into account other people’s feelings. So for me, one of the biggest regrets of my life is how, when I was married, I just did not give a shit about my spouse’s feelings.

I just didn’t care. My feelings mattered more than theirs. It wasn’t like a conscious decision where I was like, woke up and was like, well, what I want matters and what they want. Doesn’t that wasn’t my mentality. It was bred in, it was a state of mind where I would want to do something that they, and they would want to do something else.

And I won because I cared more about what I wanted to do than what they wanted to do. It applies in church culture, too. Pastors, you see it all the time as a pastoral intern, I, I had another pastoral intern with me. We had a great, I idea for a homeless ministry that would’ve been so great. It was basically like make a little, I, I lived in Spokane Washington at the time, huge homeless community.

I was like, [01:05:00] why don’t we make little kits? Like just, you know, protein bars, socks, like, you know, just, just something to lift their day. We can get the whole church together to put the together these boxes and then distribute them. Then we’re meeting people and we’re serving people and it’s great. And everyone’s involved and it’s cool.

The pastor was resistant to it for bullshit reasons. What size socks is would we get, would we be competing with other homeless ministries in the area? What are we talking about? at this point? And so it ended up not coming to fruition because I think two things, one, I think he thought his thoughts were more valuable than ours.

And two, I think he was scared because if I’m able to do ministry better than he is, that’s a threat, you know? And, and, and I don’t think he was like the most narcissistic person I’ve ever met in my life. I just think it’s bred into the culture. A preacher is gonna be either 

De’Vannon: really, really, really strong or really, [01:06:00] really, really, really weak mm-hmm okay.

And that’s just the way it is that the problem is you can’t just look at them and tell on which side of the fence they’re falling. Right. You will rarely ever hear a preacher say, they’re sorry. About anything. 

John: And when they, without a million caveats, at least at least a 

De’Vannon: million, and when they change their, I hear them say some shit like this.

When they, when they find out they’ve been wrong about something, they’ll say like a, I don’t preach that the way I used to, or my, my thinking is evolving. So basically bitch, you’re saying you were wrong. And then, so you’re not gonna apologize to the people who you misinformed for the past years before your mind changed.

Nope. 

John: Well, and even if they do, this is where the narcissism comes in. Even if there’s apology, the apology, isn’t about the people hurt. The apology is about them and their growth. And you know how, oh, I, you know, when I was a young preacher, when I was preaching at 24, I was wrong about this, this and this, but now listen to how great I am.

Like you’re saying, who cares about all those people? He hurt [01:07:00] it’s about him or, or she now be progressive there’s evil women pastors now too. Gotta be, gotta be progressive progress at that. 

De’Vannon: Yeah, you’re right. They have a lot of eye statements and stuff like that, and they don’t care. And, and it’s in the book of Jeremiah, I think 21 where the Lord has a gripe against these preachers who, who scatter his sheep and is flock and they don’t turn around and go and look for them.

And you know, all of us who’ve been kicked out discarded and everything like that. Like when I got kicked out, no one called no one wrote, no one did anything. Right. You know, I don’t know if I was just classified as a heretic and just, just gone. But I mean, the PA the priest, the priest was supposed to put a concerted effort into getting anybody who they lose instead of just charging along trucking along and just writing more books and selling out more arenas and filling, you know, getting more money, you know, you know, fuck a next book, bitch.

You lost a member. You’re supposed to stop everything to go and find them. [01:08:00]

John: Yeah, that that mentality has honestly never been a as, as long as churches have existed. That’s never been the attitude of church leadership. Even if it was supposedly commanded by Jesus it’s it’s, it’s never been present in history.

Oh, well, 

De’Vannon: shit. So then the last thing that we’re going to talk about and we’re gonna have to have you back on and really dig into your book. Mm-hmm cause I really wanted to focus on this particular podcast episode on religious discrimination. Mm-hmm you said religious discrimination is a lighter form of religious persecution.

And in this, in this portion of it, you were talking about the death of Socrates, the death of Jesus and the persecution of the Jews. Yeah, go right ahead. Say what you got to say. 

John: So from the beginning, It built into Christianity is I, I [01:09:00] mean, it’s, it’s in the, it’s in the, the term Messiah complex, right? This idea of the world is out to get you.

And the most noble thing you can do is just sit there and take it, and God will reward you later. Maybe, or maybe it’ll people will talk about you and you’ll be legendary. You know, Messiah complex and martyrdom complex are basically the same thing. And they both have like Christian roots Messiah complex, meaning what Jesus did when he, you know, claimed to be Messiah and felt he was fulfilling his role when he was crucified.

And then martyred him complex is this mythology of all these great martyrs that supposedly existed in the early church who were burned at stakes fed Alliance. Maybe one or two maybe it was done by mobs. It wasn’t commanded by embers. And primarily it was Jewish folk who, this is where it gets complicated.

Christianity [01:10:00] was Judaism at first. Like that’s what it was. The apostles are Jews. Jesus was Jewish. Sometimes I feel like I’m going insane and just a broken record pounding on like a podium, just saying Jesus was Jewish over and over again. That that’s just, I, I don’t, I feel like people just can’t admit it or like they just shrug when I say it like, well, I guess that’s true, but you know, I’m like, no not, but you know, that’s, that’s an important point.

The, where, where ancient Greek thought merged with Judaism and you had Christians who were. Greeks who thought Jesus was God. And then you had Jews who thought Jesus was a Messiah and then both saying, well, why don’t we all just get along? That’s basically what exploded Christianity, the idea that it exploded under this persecution and some sort of spiritual force was at work that just moved people to, you know, love Jesus so much.

And that’s why Christianity still exists. It’s [01:11:00] entirely fiction. And, and what. Really problematic about that is now Christians think they’re persecuted. When someone says happy holidays to them, they think they’re persecuted. When a Democrat wins, the election. They, they have a mentality where if something doesn’t go my way it’s because God is allowing Satan to persecute me.

So I’ll love him more or some nonsensical idea like that. And it’s probably the biggest, in my opinion thread throughout the history of Christianity that has played into the most horrendous behaviors committed by that group.

Well 

De’Vannon: now say for the last time,

John: the problem is anytime I finish saying something, it’s never like an uplifting, positive message. It’s always like, well, that sucks. 

De’Vannon: but it’s the truth though, man, and it, and it, it just, I need to give a time to [01:12:00]settle in so I can just. Digest that shit. It’s hard for me to, to imagine there’s people who don’t understand that Jesus was like a Jew.

Yeah. You know, but then again, you have people in this country, twirling, the Hebrew Bible around telling Jews to go back to their country. I’m all like right. You know, I often refer to it as a Hebrew Bible. I’m at the point that I’m gonna stop calling God, God, and start calling him yawe 

John: because that’s what I had started doing that in college.

Actually. It’s very funny 

De’Vannon: because he basically kind of got, I don’t know if I would say whitewashed with that term, but I, I didn’t have a problem with it, but now that it’s being used in such a negative way, I wanna, you know, I’m all for, you know, interpretations and evolution of schools of thoughts so people can grasp shit better.

Sure. Aramaic and Greek and Hebrew. Would’ve been kind of hard, I think for the majority of the, you know, the world’s population to learn. But since cause it’s taking this negative turn, I find [01:13:00]myself wanting to detach myself from whatever popular Christianity is. So I don’t call myself a Christian anymore.

Mm-hmm I just, I’m a believer in God in the Trinity and just simple shit. And, and I’m, I’m gonna start calling God yawe, you know, and just be done with it. 

John: Yeah. I think that’s a good direction to go, honestly. I mean, you know, it’s, it’s good to use the actual terms instead of terms that were, you know, the word church comes from a German word, Kirk.

I mean, that’s how young that word. So we use these terms all the time. Assuming this is what has always been talked about from the new Testament. It’s just not true. It’s just things develop and evolve in a sociological way. And you, one of the things I always say is like, you cannot understand theology.

If you do not understand sociology, there is no such thing as studying God without studying the history of what people have studied about God. 

De’Vannon: Mm-hmm, , that’s smart shit right there. And I [01:14:00] also always like to remind people that it is the Hebrew Bible. It is a middle Eastern tech, so yep. This whole fight across the world, but especially in this country here over what God wants and doesn’t want, it’s like you it’s like, it’s like, they’re trying to make us all act like Hebrews and not everybody’s supposed to do that.

Yeah, I believe in God, but I’m, I’m no fool not, everybody’s gonna be a Christian, you know? And so. But you know, trying to force people to act like Hebrews did 2000 years ago with some of this, some of this rhetoric is just insane to me. So I wanna read just a blurb from the book, even though we’ll talk about it on the next episode, because I thought the shit was funny.

So he says, so y’all John says at, at the top of his book, he says the content will be confrontational. Therefore for my own stress relief, as well as the readers, there will be intermitent Tom fooly. 

John: Absolutely. 

De’Vannon: I thought that the use of the word, Tom fooly in a well [01:15:00] researched work was just spot on.

And then he also says the claim that they are in a relationship with Christ, that their churches are their families. He’s talking about preachers, you know, that they love sinner, but hate sin, or he’s talking about Christians in general, actually that they love sinner, but hate sin. And that divine viewed is interwoven through all of it.

Cool story, bro. Doesn’t mean you are in a cold

John: Feisty man. I was feisty when I wrote that. Yeah, it is true. They’ll they’ll, they’ll say some nice stuff and yeah, sometimes yes, I think it there’s a time and a place for very intellectual deconstruction of the history, the beliefs and behaviors. And then I think there’s a time to just laugh and just say, this is so silly.

Aren’t humans so silly that they think things are important that simply aren’t. Mm-hmm 

De’Vannon: so I’m gonna let you have the last word, say whatever the [01:16:00] fuck you wanna say. I want you to make it clear for us though, on exactly where you stand on. God. I know you don’t go to churches anymore. You don’t fucks with religion.

Do you still believe in him? Do you not? And then after that you can give your advice, whatever the fuck you wanna say. 

John: Awesome. Everybody is always so curious about this and it’s, it’s probably just shows I never answer the question. Well, because people keep asking and I’m like, I don’t know. So, okay man, what do I wanna say?

I will say my gut, not my belief, my gut. Is there something rather than nothing? That’s it that’s a that as far as believes go, that’s what I’ve got. As far as advice just. Just, just stop reading Twitter and read a book. I know that’s, like, like I know that’s like, that’s such boring grandpa advice, [01:17:00] but it’s true.

I’m like, I, I get really discouraged that people don’t read books. You don’t have to read a lot of books, just like a couple books would be great. It’s just as I it’s, it’s the same thing as reading Twitter, it’s just reading from a page or from a Kindle or whatever, you know, just, just read, read, more read, read, read.

That’s the only advice I got. And yeah, you can read things I disagree with. That’s great too. Just read things. And please just don’t whatever you do, if you are gonna read, don’t just read what Christians say. Christians say don’t just read the Bible and what Christians say about the Bible. Read other stuff.

There’s other good stuff.

De’Vannon: Hallelu tower knackle and praise. Thank you so much for coming on this show, John. It’s been great. I look forward to having you a second time. 

John: Yeah, of course. Anytime.

De’Vannon: Thank you all so much for taking time to listen to the [01:18:00] sex drugs in Jesus podcast. It really means everything to me. Look, if you love the show, you can find more information and resources at sex drugs in jesus.com or wherever you listen to your podcast. Feel free to reach out to me directly at DeVannon@SexDrugsAndJesus.com and on Twitter and Facebook as well.

My name is De’Vannon and it’s been wonderful being your host today and just remember that everything is gonna be right.

 

 

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